Upang matiyak na hindi ito nakikidoble sa ibang ahensiya, kailangang mapag-aralan ang mga umiiral na tungkulin ng Philippine International Trading Center (PITC).
Binigyang-diin ito ni Senador Panfilo Lacson sa harap ng usapin na mistulang napipigilan nito ang pag-realign ng pondo para sa mahahalagang proyekto.
“The issue is this: If the agencies procure items via their own Bids and Awards Committees or the Department of Budget and Management’s Procurement Service, the funds that are not used can be converted into savings. The President, Senate President, House Speaker and Chief Justice are allowed by the Constitution to realign these to other items within their respective offices. But funds with the PITC become idle and are returned to the Treasury,” pagsisiwalat ni Lacson sa panayam ng ABS-CBN News Channel.
“So development is stunted in some ways because funds that should have been available are returned to the Treasury and cannot be realigned for other needs,” dagdag ni Lacson.
Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson on Wednesday stressed the need to revisit the functions of the Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC), which is turning out to be a redundant agency.
Lacson said the PITC can potentially stunt national development since the funds “entrusted” to it for procurement cannot be used and realigned for urgent programs.
“The issue is this: If the agencies procure items via their own Bids and Awards Committees or the Department of Budget and Management’s Procurement Service, the funds that are not used can be converted into savings. The President, Senate President, House Speaker and Chief Justice are allowed by the Constitution to realign these to other items within their respective offices. But funds with the PITC become idle and are returned to the Treasury,” he said in an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel.
“So development is stunted in some ways because funds that should have been available are returned to the Treasury and cannot be realigned for other needs,” he added.
Regardless of the constitutional issues involving the House of Representatives’ version of the 2021 budget bill, it is still good that the Senate has enough time to approve our own version, leaving room for the bicameral conference and submission to the President for approval, thus avoiding a re-enacted budget.
Late yesterday afternoon, I submitted my Finance Subcommittee C report covering all the agencies assigned to me as Committee on Finance Vice Chair, in compliance with the Oct. 26 deadline set by the Committee.
However, I based my report on the National Expenditure Program, with a caveat that necessary adjustments will be made once the General Appropriations Bill is transmitted by the House.
Now that the GAB is available as reported, once we get hold of our copy, I’ll make adjustments based on the House version of the budget bill.
Last Oct. 16, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading the P4.5-trillion proposed national budget for 2021. Yet as of today, it continues to tackle amendments via the so-called “small group.”
Art. VI, Sec. 26, Paragraph 2 of the 1987 Constitution is unequivocally clear, regardless of where the amendments will come from. Wala namang sinasabi ang Constitution na pag naghahabol ng “errata,” hindi ito applicable: “Upon the last reading of a bill, NO AMENDMENT THERETO SHALL BE ALLOWED, and the vote thereon shall be taken immediately thereafter, and the yeas and nays entered in the Journal.”
Amid promises of “best efforts” to transmit the budget bill by end-October, if the House still ends up transmitting the bill on Nov. 5, does it mean that the description “House of the People” is all lip service?
Just so it is clear, canceling or postponing the election to pave the way for the extension of the terms of office of the President, Vice-President, 12 senators, district representatives as well as elected local government officials beyond June 30, 2022 is a clear violation of the Constitution.
Thus, any discussion or debate on this issue is an exercise in futility, if not a waste of time and energy.
Also, since the Constitution also provides that “elections for the members of Congress and local positions (except barangay officials) occur every second Monday of every third year after May 1992, and presidential and vice presidential elections occur every second Monday of May every sixth year after May 1992”, and that “elected officials, except those at the barangay level, start (and end) their terms of office on 30 June of the election year”, the proposal of the Commission on Elections to extend the May 2022 elections a day or two before or after the dates specified under the Constitution may face a constitutional challenge before the Supreme Court.
This is not to mention valid issues and concerns involving the security of the “secrecy and sanctity of the ballot” as also provided under the 1987 Constitution, as trending may occur if the ballots are not properly safeguarded.
At the end of the day, it is the Constitution that should guide all of us in this regard.
Stating his strong position on the issue before the community of nations, many of whom are leaders of countries that continue to grapple with the threats of terrorism, made it more significant.
Indeed, terrorism is a threat that knows no timing nor borders as shown in recent bombings in our own turf. This led us to pass the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 that contains the needed legal backbone to let our security forces implement the law with efficacy and confidence, even proactively – as well as the needed safeguards to curb potential abuse and violation of the 1987 Constitution.
At the hearing on the 2021 budgets of the Commission on Audit and Office of the Ombudsman, Sen. Lacson stressed the DBM has no authority under the Constitution to issue a discontinuance against a constitutional body such as the COA – after noting that the DBM issued a budget circular providing for the discontinuance of Programs, Activities and Projects (PAPs) of COA amounting to a total of P173M under the 2020 budget as they were categorized as congressional initiative and as “For Later Release.”
“My point is, Mr. Chairman, under the Constitution – particularly Sec. 5, Art 9-A, it provides for the automatic and regular release of the annual appropriations of constitutional commissions. And COA very clearly is one of three constitutional commissions, Comelec and CSC being the others. Of course even the judiciary,” Sen. Lacson said as he also cited jurisprudence (Bengzon vs Drilon, GR 103524), where fiscal autonomy allows the constitutional bodies and the judiciary full flexibility to allocate and utilize their resources with the wisdom and dispatch that their needs require. “So pag sinabi nating fiscal autonomy, walang pakialam ang DBM.”
COA Chairman Michael Aguinaldo said that while they are okay with the DBM’s decision “considering the difficulties the govt was having with funding in view of the pandemic,” he would agree that “it’s a violation of fiscal autonomy under the Constitution.”
“I’d like to manifest this very clearly, let this not serve as a precedent for future issuances by DBM; huwag lang gawing precedent setting ito. If I may add, emergency or no emergency, hindi pwedeng precedent ito,” Sen. Lacson said.
To Federico Pascual: Please allow us to set the record straight regarding some claims you made in your Sept. 6, 2020 column in The Philippine Star – including the suggestion that Senator Panfilo M. Lacson’s Senate bill enables President Rodrigo Duterte to “designate” who will succeed him.
To the Inquirer: Please allow us to set the record straight regarding the column of Prof. Edilberto de Jesus (“Dangerous distractions,” Business Matters, 9/5/20), where he touched on a proposed piece of legislation that aims to avert a potential constitutional crisis and leadership vacuum by extending the constitutional line of succession.